Omaha organization seeks funding for mobile mental health unit


OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – “I suffered from depression most of my life, but it was better controlled until I lost my sight.”

Mary Sheldon, 60, lost her sight at the age of 28. She says a brain tumor severed her optic nerves and that’s when her depression spiraled out of control, eventually landing her in hospital.

“That’s how sanity is, you can’t always plan for it…and that’s why a mobile unit would be good because they can’t always call someone during the day knowing that ‘He’s going to need help at two in the morning,’ Sheldon says.

Brad Negrete is the Senior Director of Health and Wellness at Lutheran Family Services. He has undergone extensive training with law enforcement across the United States and says responding to mental health calls can exceed an officer’s level of expertise.

“Having someone follow that person’s path can help build that rapport a lot faster and set them up for success maybe a lot faster,” he says.

Lutheran Family Services celebrates over 100 years of helping the community. They say the addition of a mobile crisis unit supports people where they are.

“Meeting people where they are is also part of our current strategic plan in terms of access to care. It puts people at the heart of everything we do at LFS,” says Mark Versen, Lutheran Family Services Development Manager.

He says another part of this strategic plan is to get this mobile unit up and running. The LFS must raise between 150,000 and 200,000 dollars. Not to mention the additional funding needed to ensure that the Mobile Crisis Unit can and does maintain its services to the community.

“I think that would be very helpful because it would encourage people to call for help. Often people are afraid to call for help because of this. They don’t want the police involved, they’re scared and they won’t call for help. Going out to someone’s house and seeing what’s going on where they are, instead of taking them out of their environment, will be better,” Sheldon says.

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